“To his dog, every man is Napoleon, hence the constant popularity of dogs.” Aldous Huxley
Kirby is a great guy, the baby of the family, the apple of his father’s eye, and a mama’s boy, so definitely a spoiled boy. He and Brian grew up together. Brian has been friends with Kirt since they were in the womb.
Kirt’s father died of heart-related issues, and then his mother died eight or nine years ago. His sister took everything when their mother died and more-or-less left him with nothing. They never got along. Kirt asked Brian if he could put his house in Brian’s name. His mother had bought the house for him and he was afraid his sister would take it, too.
“Oh, my God,” I told Brian, don’t do it. “Don’t do it, don’t do it, don’t do it.”
“Kirt would never screw me over,” said Brian.
“He would never screw you over intentionally,” I said. “But, let’s face it, Kirby is Kirby, always out to make a buck.” Kirt is Kirby, but we call him Kirt most of the time. He is nuts. One time he was growing pot in his basement, another time he was making meth, not using it, just growing it and making it and selling it.
Guess what, Brian put his name on Kirt’s house. I told him, this is the worst thing ever.
Guess what, it went bad.
Kirt blew whatever little money his mother left him and then stopped paying his property taxes. We started getting delinquency notices in the mail. It piled up on Brian and me.
“I’m going to kill him, I swear to God, I’m going to kill him,” I said. “I’m not losing our house because he’s an asshole.”
Brian finally talked to him.
“Dude,” he said. “I’m selling your house.”
Brian sold it, paid off the taxes, there wasn’t anything left after that, and that was that.
Kirt stopped by our house one day. I couldn’t even look at him. “I know you didn’t try to do this, but you’re an idiot,” I said. “Brian and I almost divorced over you. You’re a major fucking idiot.”
After that we lost contact with Kirt. Years went by. The next thing we knew, Brian heard that Kirt had had a massive heart attack. He ended up in the Cleveland Clinic, where they did a quadruple bypass. As soon as he recovered, because he had no insurance, they said, we fixed your heart, bye. He was out the door.
Three weeks later he was back.
“I’m not feeling right,” he said. “Something’s wrong, something’s wrong.”
They found a blood clot aneurysm in his head. They had to remove the top third of his brain. He has two-thirds of a brain left. They discharged him again.
“Where the hell is Kirt?” asked Brian.
He set out to find him. He found him living in Ashtabula, in a dirt-floor shed, living with his dumb-as-a-rock star two hundred pound American Bulldog, Louie.
“This is my life,” said Kirby. He couldn’t work anywhere. If anyone were to hire him they would be liable for his mistakes.
“Can we take him in?” Brian asked.
“Brian, my mom just got diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, I cannot take on anymore, no,” I said.
We found friends of his to take him in. Brian got power of attorney so we could make sure his medical stuff got done. But, Kirt’s friend, someone he had gone all the way from elementary school together through high school, didn’t work out. He was a heavy alcoholic and his wife was stealing Kirby’s medications for her own recreation.
What the fuck is wrong with people?
I finally told Brian, bring him here. “At least we’re not going to take advantage of him.” Brian went and got him and his dog. He loves Louie. When he was having his heart attack Louie sat on his chest and kept him warm until somebody finally found him and the ambulance came. He wasn’t going to go anywhere without his dog.
At first Kirt and Louie stayed upstairs in our guest bedroom. After a week, blech, it was too close for comfort. It was time for a new plan.
“How would you like it if I made an apartment for you out of my basement?” I asked him. “That way I have a little more privacy, you have a little more privacy.”
Kirt loved the idea. My dogs, whose basement it was, loved the idea. They loved having Kirby down there with them.
We took out the couch our dogs had destroyed, put in a fridge, and a king-size bed. I told the dogs the bed wasn’t for them. “You’re not capable of having anything nice, you tear it up.” They started totally bumming on me.
Then Kirt piped up, “Oh yeah, they all get to sleep with me.”
“You know what,” I said, “it’s done, it’s your apartment.”
We made the apartment for him. He’s got his fridge, his cupboards, his bathroom. We go grocery shopping for him, take him to the doctor, and we are trying to get him on disability He’s been turned down twice, even though there’s nobody who needs disability more than him. He’s only got part of a brain and his heart works at way less than capacity.
“Third time is the charm,” they said.
He finally got it, but then they said it has to be reviewed, and the review board can’t get to him for the next eighteen months. They pay retro, they told us, but who cares? He could be dead before that. The Cleveland Clinic told him after his heart surgery he wouldn’t last a year.
A year-and-a-half later he’s living in my basement. At least as of right now.
One day I told Brian, I haven’t seen Kirby all day. “Go make sure he’s alive. Just go down. I don’t want to go there.”
Brian went downstairs. The dogs started barking.
“Kirt, you’ve got to clean your apartment,” I heard Brian telling him. “Keep it clean.” My dogs came running upstairs. I opened the back door and let them outside into the backyard. Louie stayed downstairs with his Napoleon.
Click here to see more writing between fiction and non-fiction by Ed Staskus.